Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How NOT to show disagreement

This year's University of the Philippines Graduation Speech has been making waves lately (in terms of backlash in the blogosphere), but contrary to all those people who reacted violently, I find it quite refreshing to hear about a different kind of activism coming from a UP graduate. Gabriela M. Francisco, College of Music BM Voice, Summa Cum Laude, in her speech, urges fellow UP graduates to devote their education and skills to contribute significantly to the country. She asserts that patriotism is not only evident when you rally in the streets, but also (and more so) when you address your own responsibilities first.

This humble example of patriotism is no less valuable than going out to the streets to rally against the government. Gabi illustrates another side to the face of the stereotypical UP student in saying: "A lot of us have experienced the pressure to join rallies and boycott classes, or risk being called 'indifferent' and 'apathetic.' But such censure is neither fair nor complete if in sticking to one’s studies, by faithfully going to class and attending lectures, by fulfilling the mission given to oneself in the meantime, one always keeps in mind that time spent away from one’s studies is the money of one’s less fortunate countrymen gone to waste." (Let's not forget that UP, being a state university, offers education paid for by each Filipino.)

Not to put down the power of marching on the streets--in fact, it's the marching that made Filipinos famous back in 1986--but it looks like some people only see (and aim for) big-bang resolutions all the time. Whatever happened to the saying "If you want change, start with yourself"? Truth is, a lot can be done through the "quiet ways" too. And Gabi is just one to point out how much help fully committing oneself to one's studies (and work, if you're not a student anymore) can give to the country we all love.

But instead of hearing her out, some people who commented on her speech (read comments to speech in link above) not only expressed their disagreement, they also attacked her being a Music Major--and made assumptions about her personality. (There's even a poem on it--how much time do these people have to waste anyway?)

There are ways to argue your cause, and this is not a good example of them. Opinions will always differ no matter where you are--that's why humans were given a mind in the first place. Disagreeing with an opinion is one thing, putting it down as irrelevant (and attacking the speaker personally) is another. Is it so hard to disagree without calling names, picking fights and making unfair assumptions? Oh, I suppose not when you're always hoping for a big-bang turn of events--honestly, if you want a dose of that, why don't you watch those showbiz "news" shows? There are enough petty fights going on there to feed the hungry.

I'm sure activism can go a long way if the people promoting it would just stop criticizing and start doing. Just think about the time and effort it took them to put down Gabi (and her speech) and compose a silly and useless poem about her. They could've used that time educating people about their rights or making a difference. Instead they decide to pollute the Internet. So many capabilities, all put to waste.

On a related note, I've honestly never seen a rally flyer in UP without the obligatory name-calling. I'm sure you're all very smart--I just hope you'd show it more often.


lachrymose said...

Woah! I didn't know that it was Tata's sister who's this year's valedictorian. First and foremost, congrats Gabby! I barely know her and have said hi or smiled to her a few times when I mistook her for Tata.

I don't know Nessa personally but I think we were classmates on one or two subjects back in college and congrats to her for graduating with honors too...

I have a deep love for activism. Maybe that's the reason why I got to study in UP in the first place is due to the fact that my batchmates from FEU and I sued the school. We refused to take the additional subjects they added. We should have taken the course for four years but they added several subjects extended it to five years. I was even thinking of writing an article about this for youngblood. Maybe I should soon.

Being an activist is not all about shouting on the streets anyways or going to rallies. Most of people think that activists hates politicians but they do have a love-hate relationship with them. The activists "lobby" the bills to make them laws. Activists are so misunderstood and I pity the most people think of them as causing a heavy traffic.

I have not seen, heard or read Gabby's speech (Pwede bang humingi ng copy?) for me to be able to have an opinion about it but I personally have deep love for education. Maybe it's due to the fact that my Mom is an educator and having a diploma is a big thing for us.

When I graduated last year, I attended both the university graduation and college graduation even if I didn't have honors!

I have spent 9 years in college, 5 in FEU and 4 in UPD. That's how I love school! And I also vow to finish Accountancy soon! And maybe take up masters or law. Who knows?! I don't find anything wrong with wanting to have a diploma or for wanting to achieve that diploma. Not all graduates become successful, that is true but something has to be said about the diligence of a student who goes to class on time, reads her notes beforehand and participates during the classroom discussion. Something has to be said about the discipline of keeping that study schedule and exploring the shelves of the library. I do agree that you don't learn everything within the four walls of the classroom but you'd learn something nevertheless.

I think Gabby and Nessa will find a common ground in me... Don't you think so?

petrufied said...

Yup, you're right Gee. Activism can go a long way--it's exercising your freedom of speech after all.

Accomplishing your duties as a student goes hand in hand with whatever you decide to do while you're in college--that includes taking part in protests. (Gabi's speech also praises the people who work hard to organize them, in the very first paragraph.) So, I don't see why some people felt it justifiable to insult Gabi as they protested to her speech.

Di ba in CW we learned that it's one thing to criticize a piece, it's another to insult the person who wrote it?

I provided a link to Tata's post in this entry--the speech is called "A Heroic Life"; you should find it if you click the link. :D

Thanks for dropping by! I liked reading your side. ;) Keep learning!